We spoke with Rwandan multidisciplinary artist Cedric Mizero, who delved into the costumes in Neptune Frost and his work as an artist.
Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman‘s Neptune Frost has many currents. Pulsing with a neon fever of greens and blues, the film is passionately Afro-futuristic in its constitution. This distinction from Afrofuturism as a throwaway buzzword is important. Mainly because of the story’s roots, a Burundian village where hackers in a tech scrapyard throw off the yoke of capitalist, neocolonial powers to stage a cyber revolution. Crucial to this takeover is the titular Neptune, an intersex runaway, and Matalusa, a coltan miner. They are both fleeing something. For Neptune, it is the dangerous calculus of the gender binary. For Matalusa, it is from the duress of labor exploitation and resource pillaging.
Their union empowers the resistance, forging a manifesto for technological freedom, wealth redistribution, decolonization, gender autonomy, and so on. But Neptune Frost won’t be without its eccentric DIY costumes. From the enigmatic, breaking-the-fourth-wall opening of Neptune wearing a colorful, twisty, head enclosure that looks like planetary rings, the gardening women in floaty white frocks and sculptural head cones to Matalusa’s potentially covetable jacket, made from a swarming amalgamation of black keyboard letters. Responsible for these sartorial quirks is Cedric Mizero, a Rwandan multidisciplinary artist whose creative stylings and philosophies are already getting recognition in international spaces.
Though not formally trained, Cedric has always felt art chose him as a teenager. Combining painting, fashion design, textures, objects, and mediums, Cedric is more inspired by the rural life around him. Those marginalized by class politics are usually in his creative tableau, including nuanced political themes from his home country. In 2018, Cedric was selected to participate in the International Fashion Showcase 2019, as one of 16 finalists out of more than 200 applications from young fashion designers around the world. Designing costumes for Neptune Frost isn’t his first rodeo. There is Atiq Rahimi‘s Notre Dame du Nil (2019), a coming-of-age story about a group of Rwandan schoolgirls at a Belgian-run Catholic school.
There is also Eric Barbier‘s Petit Pays (2018), which leans into the tensions in neighboring Rwanda that threaten the peaceful existence of a Burundi boy and his family. Further, in Baloji’s short film Never Look At the Sun (2019), a commentary on skin bleaching, Cedric is credited as a collaborating costume designer.
Neptune Frost, which made its debut last summer at the Cannes Film Festival, continues to receive international praise. Last month, it was announced that Kino Lorber will distribute Neptune Frost throughout the world this year. On the heels of that news, OkayAfrica spoke with Cedric, who delved into the film’s costumes and his work as an artist.